BMW’s latest Art Car, an M3 GT2, was undoubtedly the most spectacularly liveried car that raced at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race, providing some stunning imagery opportunities for anyone lucky enough to attend the French classic endurance race. Sadly, the car – race number 79 – did not finish the event but was nevertheless shipped to the Ascari race circuit in Southern Spain to be on display as part of the BMW’s M3 25th anniversary celebrations that I was taking part in.
The 17th in a 35-year-long run of BMW Art Cars, the M3 GT2 was painted by American artist Jeff Koons with a multi-coloured theme that stood out like a beacon during the night-time lappery of the circuit. Working closely with the BMW Motorsports squad on the application of the graphics to ensure they didn’t have any negative effect on the car’s aerodynamics, it took Koons four months to create the finished design. Koons collected images of various race cars and elements showing speed, vibrant colour and graphics and these influenced the final design, which is a series of coloured streaks, highlighted by brighter spots along the car. The livery is a full body wrap and had to have its own set of spare bodywork in case of damage replacement.
Driven by Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE), the car qualified a disappointing 11th in class. Dirk Müller took the start and was sixth in class prior to straight-lining a chicane, due to a puncture, during which he damaged the floor and suspension. Dirk managed to cruise back slowly for extensive repairs. Andy Priaulx took the wheel and made good progress catching up for lost time before another puncture had Priaulx limping back to the pits. Unfortunately, Tom Kristensen in an Audi R15 came up to lap the slow BMW just as Priaulx moved to the left and contact was made, putting Kristensen into the gravel. The Audi recovered as an apologetic Priaulx made it back to the pits, but the BMW later retired with fuel problems. A sad end for such a colourful entry.